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Electrical Development in Northern Ireland

Nature volume 135, page 218 (09 February 1935) | Download Citation



AN experiment on the co-ordination of electricity distribution is now in its fourth year in Northern Ireland. With the exception of the areas covered by the county borough undertakings of Belfast and Londonderry and by the Antrim Electricity Supply Co., practically the whole of Northern Ireland is included. By an Act passed by the Parliament of Northern Ireland in 1931, a Board was set up, the duties of which were to promote, co-ordinate and improve the supply distribution of electricity generally throughout the country. The Act specially laid down that the Board should not be a profit-earning body and that the members should not be financially interested in any company engaged in electrical work. In a paper read to the Institution of Electrical Engineers on January 23, Mr. C. R. Westlake showed that the policy of co-ordination is proving successful, and that the public now has a service of electricity supply not possible under the previous types of control. The main source of supply in Northern Ireland is the harbour power station of the Belfast Corporation, and the area round it is populous. The area taken for primary development covers 1,200 square miles and has a population of about 300,000. The Board can purchase its supplies from any authorised undertakers, and it has adequate equipment to provide for rapid and continuous growth. The problem is to supply energy at rates low enough to secure growth and at the same time to secure sufficient revenue. Notwithstanding the competition of gas companies, more than 50 per cent of the potential consumers are already connected, and where there is no competition, ‘saturation’ is attained almost immediately. Whole areas hitherto without supply have now amenities usually associated with city life without loss of their rural surroundings. This successful experiment shows the trend of public policy towards the co-ordination of all public utility undertakings.

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